There seem to be more and more millionaires coming out of the nicely paneled woodwork to tell us that they should pay higher taxes. I heard one of these folks on NPR yesterday and she was talking about what made her happy in life. She's loaded, young, and could have anything she wanted, but what she said made a lot of sense: She said she would be better off and a lot happier if everyone in the country had access to decent housing, enough to eat, quality transportation and a chance at a good education.
So I started thinking about it, I guess there's a reason that I'm a horrible capitalist, because I totally agree with her. If I hit the lottery ... well (geek alert), I've had my eye on that cool Visconti lava fountain pen, but there's really not of lot of stuff that I want. And maybe I'm not that odd - maybe most people really don't want isn't Michael Moore's mansion (gawd, who would keep it clean? I can't even get the dog hair off the floor of my little place in Bernal Heights). Maybe most of us want to make sure our family has a place to live and there's money for the kids to go to college and medical care for our aging parents and a job that's not awful.
What else do I want? I want to be able to ride high-speed rail to L.A. instead of driving the car on I-5 on Thanksgiving week. I want the kids to be able to take buses directly to school so I don't have to drive them. I want more nudity on TV (well, that's not really about money, I guess). I want the rec centers and libraries to be open every day and on the weekends, and I want them to have great programs, and I want to have more swim classes at the public pools so I don't have to pay to send my daughter to the YMCA, and I want to be able to see a doctor when my leg hurts without waiting a month for a manged-care appointment. A nice fishing boat would be cool, but I could share.
Seriously: I'm like the rich girl on NPR (kind of): Most of what I want is stuff that the government ought to be providing to everyone anyway. If only she and the rest of the rich people in the country, who already have everything they want, were paying fair taxes. I got no problem with people wanting to be the next Bill Gates, and even in a really good capitalist system (is that possible?) there will always be rich people, and I suppose the desire for financial success drives progress.
But wouldn't we all be better if ... we were all better? What would you want if you were rich?
And if I do hit the lottery, do I get a tax deduction on the boat?